Entire empires are raised and leveled thanks to desperate, impulsive, guilty holiday shoppers. These are small-sized, low-priced items that make wonderful wallpaper throughout the nine-mile TJ Maxx checkout maze.
These gifts are Band-aids for the regretful.
They're no good for you. They're no good for their potential recipient. You need to avoid their jewel-sugared bullshit.
\\\ But oh, man, it'd be so easy to be a lazy gift giver.
The best holiday impulse buys are straightforward augmentations to actions the recipient performs every day. While three notable examples are listed below, I'd advise you reverse engineer your own potential impulse buys for your own loved ones based on that criteria.
What do they do on a daily basis? What repeated action could you simplify for them with a small addition.
Impulse buy no. 1: Razors
This is a middle ground example. If they weren't so functional, I'd move them to the "no-go" list below. See, regularity is why razors are such an easy sell. Does your stanky-ass jack-bag husband or boyfriend neglect their facial hair? Get them a razor. Cheap, small, and usually cool-LOOKING, razors.
Which razor? Dude, I don't know, how about this razor.
Impulse buy no. 2: Coffee
Most people don't know how atrocious their coffee is. They don't know what real coffee looks like or tastes like. That's why they add eight pounds of heavy cream and sugar to their morning brew. That's why it was so easy for coffee chains to turn coffee into liquid cookies.
You want to brew coffee like this guy: Odd-Steinar Tøllefsen, World Brewers Cup champion from Norway. He makes the best cup of coffee in the world by pouring precisely 300 grams of 194-198° F hot water over 20 grams of coffee grounds through a filter. Nothing fancy about it.
You and your loved ones can brew coffee like him with the exact Hario V60 pour-over kit he uses.
Impulse buy no. 3: Video games
Why impulse-purchase a single $60 video game like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, a game so appealing to me I said this:
Call of Duty is now just Mobile Suit Gundam.— Alex Crumb (@Alex_Crumb) May 2, 2016
That owns so hard, man.
In spite of that, I instead recommend you buy your loved one a $60 Raspberry Pi kit. A Raspberry Pi is a miniature computer that can be programmed to house thousands of video games. Not only do you get to recall how wobbly some of those old 8-bit NES games were, you can enjoy actually crafting something.
Some light YouTube instruction-watching is required. Once the Raspberry Pi is built though, it will house every game ever created between 1985 and 2000.
\\ Avoid these holiday impulse buys (except if you're a tasteless moron that knows nothing about the gift's recipient but you want to counterbalance that feeling with the appearance of money spent).
Maybe you're a person that buys t-shirts for $50 at Anthropologie and then recites the product's marketing copy to anyone who will listen. If so, understand this: your grandma talks shit about you behind your back.
There's a certain person that will gift objects framed as luxury for a meaningless price as a demonstration. To them, to the surrounding world, and to the recipient, that they're worth compact monetary obviousness.
Impulse buy to avoid no. 1: Diamonds and jewelry
Gonna run on down to the mall and get a glass-snaked ring for that person you aren't emotionally-mature enough to speak true love toward? Hey, guess what, diamonds and jewelry are such obvious, meaningless gifts in our culture, you can literally snag one between the Cinnabon and the Gamestop.
Impulsively buying jewelry from mall shops is profanity within love declarations. They're fucking filler. They're fuckig cliche. They're goddamn stop-gaps in an ill-structured story about two thoughtless shit-puppets trying to pantomime their predecessor's cock-happy validation via consumerist lust.
Impulse buy to avoid no. 2: Cars at Christmastime
Know when's a good time to buy a car? Did you guess Christmas?
You're wrong. There's never a good time to buy a car. There's also never a bad time to buy a car. Get over it.
Buying a car at Christmas is the blood-fat field-tick chewing at the base of your brainstem during the Black Friday shopping period. It's gorged itself on your proud frugality for not buying a discount 4k television and you're so high on the stench of your own fleece vest, you decide to truck it over to the GM dealership and snap up some BIG-TIME saving's on something you'd actually use. Like a car!
Are you a man with graying temples, a parent, or a woman who can't see over the traffic in the city streets? Great! You're precisely the target marketing for an American automobile. And there's no better time to (avoid) buying a car than Black Friday.
Impulse buy to avoid no. 3: Chocolate
Nice. Random, chalky boxes of chocolate to make people feel like human garbage the moment January 1 rolls around to tell you what a weak shit-burger you've been for the last two months, eating sweet trash.
Look, indulge if you want to at the holidays. Eat what you want, I don't care. But if you're giving a gift, and you want to snap up some extra sweetness for somebody, and you think this is going to be the thing that puts you over the top, you are entering into a world of pain, my friend.
Give somebody socks, or lightbulbs, or batteries, or shoelaces, or a watering can, or duct tape, or something that's functional. But cheap-ass chocolate? Dude, get over yourself. That is a dead, emotionless, glass kiss.